This week is National Infertility Awareness week. A few months ago I shared my husband and I’s struggle to get pregnant. I am not sure I would say that I am a planner; I fly by the seat of my pants more than I would like to admit. However, I am a person who likes to know “what’s next” – and most of the time I am about eight steps ahead of any given situation.
Navigating infertility was no exception. I scoured the internet looking for information on my symptoms, trying to figure out the best way to conceive. Frequently I consulted friends and family who had been down the same road as us, most of the time comforted by the fact that they all had kids. I stressed about the finances and constantly let my mind go to the unimaginable – that we may not be able to have biological children.
The unknown was the hardest part about infertility for me. I just wanted to know what we were supposed to do. Would all of the poking, blood draws, and hormones result in baby? Or would adoption be what brought us our baby? Getting started with the doctors was not hard for me. For some, though, the first step is often the hardest and the scariest. Others just have no idea where to start. For those women–and for all women on the infertility path–I wanted to share with you things that I found helpful while we were on our journey.
Learn about your cycle.
Get familiar with CD1 (cycle day one, which starts the day your period starts) and why CD3 and CD21 are important. (There are important tests that are performed on each of those days.) Learn about your hormones. FSH, TSH, Prolactin, Estrogen, Progesterone… There are a lot of hormones that must mix to make the perfect hormone cocktail for a future baby.
Consult an expert.
Find either a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) or a OBGYN who specialized in fertility treatments. If you don’t know anyone who has used an RE or don’t feel comfortable asking, Google your area. We are lucky to live in the Iowa City area – UIHC has an amazing RE program.
Find a support system and utilize them.
This is the biggest piece of advice I have for anyone. Going through something as emotional and trying as infertility cannot and should not be done alone. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to family, or even a close friend, there is an AWESOME support group in the Iowa City area. If that isn’t your cup of tea, find a message board online and make some virtual friends. Infertility is traumatizing and you will need support.
Be your own advocate.
Ask questions, research possible treatments and keep pushing. Yes, doctors are there to help guide you, but we know our bodies the best. Don’t be afraid to question or speak up if you’re not comfortable with something.
Communicate with your significant other.
Infertility will do one of two things to your relationship – it will either destroy you or bring you closer together. Men (if your significant other is a man) don’t get our maternal instincts and what it does to us when we can’t do what nature intended. To this day, I don’t think my husband understands the emotional toll infertility took on me, but he was there for me every step of the way – taking my hormone-fueled rages, holding me when yet another pregnancy test came up negative and listening to me as I talked about the next steps.
Be kind to yourself.
It’s not your fault. Most likely, with today’s modern medicine, your chances of conceiving are pretty good. Get massages, eat and drink well, and enjoy full nights of sleep.
If you’ve been down the infertility road, how did you deal with it?